Trademark Law and Practice

Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc.

Supreme Court of the United States, 1992

Facts:

Taco Cabana ran a chain of Mexican restaurant chain in Texas with a "festive eating atmosphere." Two Pesos opened its own chain with a very similar motif, also in Texas. Taco Cabana sued for trade dress infringement.

Procedural History:

  • Trial court found that Taco Cabana's trade dress was inherently distinctive and that Two Pesos intentionally infringed Taco Cabana's trade dress.

  • Court of appeals affirmed.

Issue:

Does trade dress have to have a secondary meaning to be enforceable?

Reasoning:

It is assumed that the trial court's finding of distinctiveness was valid. If a trademark or trade dress is inherently distinctive, there is never a need for a secondary meaning to provide acquired distinctiveness as well.

Rule/Holding:

Inherently distinctive trade dress does not require a secondary meaning to be enforceable.

Judgment:

Affirmed.

Takeaway:

Trade dress can be inherently distinctive.

Note:

Two Pesos's owners sold its chain to Taco Cabana rather than make the changes required.